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Taking the leap

January 15, 2018

Ida Abdalkhani is proof positive that a fulfilling life can begin with one step in the right direction

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Ida Abdalkhani

Ida Abdalkhani graduated magna cum laude from Ohio State with two bachelor’s degrees, and she followed those with an MBA from Fisher College of Business. Not surprisingly, she had a job — as an assistant brand manager for P&G — by the time she graduated.

For five years, she got up early, worked late and rarely took vacations. A key player in many successful marketing campaigns, she even had dreams of becoming a vice president.

But after a while, she realized her heart wasn’t in it. Sure, it was an amazing position with great potential. But her thirst for entrepreneurship and forging her own path wasn’t being quenched.

“I had all these ideas, but I could only fly within a box, within the boundaries given to me,” Ida said. “I felt like my wings had been clipped.”

At night, she tossed and turned. She wanted to quit her job, but how could she walk away from a position with such promise? What would she do next? The answers came on a much-needed vacation to southern Africa with friends.

There, Ida found herself looking out over Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall, prepared to bungee jump from the bridge below her feet. She told her friends, “If I can jump off the bridge, I will quit my job.”

And she did.

That plunge propelled Ida down a fulfilling path forward. Now, the Ohio State alumna and savvy entrepreneur leads a busy, satisfying, multilayered life.

As founder and “chief catalyzer” of Ability to Engage, she runs a small business that advises big companies (think Clorox and Red Bull) on marketing, market research and product development. She’s a college instructor and a sought-after motivational speaker.

Ida also teaches laughter yoga, an Eastern form of meditation that helps people laugh their stress away.

Was this metamorphosis quick? Easy? No and no. But her time at Ohio State and in Columbus contributed to the know-how and confidence she needed to reinvent herself.

“My parents always taught me to think big, and while I had that mentality, I didn’t have exposure to a lot of those opportunities in a small town,” she said.

“Ohio State was really eye-opening for me. I realized you can think big, and if you couple that with all these other people who think big, the exposure and the possibilities are endless.”

So, whether she’s back on campus speaking at the Ohio Union, teaching laughter yoga to Buckeye Leadership Fellows or helping to create wildly successful social media campaigns for companies, she’s doing it with passion and purpose.

Looking to buck convention and define your own path forward? Let Ida inspire you.

Read more about Ida Abdalkhani in the latest edition of Ohio State Alumni Magazine.